Billionaire hotelier Justin Hemmes has confounded the pundits choosing the NSW South Coast as his entertainment and hospitality company’s first venture outside Sydney.
The location of Merivale’s first venue outside the NSW capital has long been a subject of conjecture, with many industry insiders believing it would be Melbourne.
Instead, the hospitality heavyweight has snapped up The Quarterdeck in Narooma for an undisclosed sum.
For Mr Hemmes, it was a decision made with his heart as well as his head.
“Narooma has become my second home and the backdrop to so many of my happiest memories with my family,” he said.
Mr Hemmes purchased a property at Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma, back in 2015.
“I think it (Narooma) is one of the most beautiful spots in the world with a unique landscape, crystal clear waters and an amazing community of people who call it home,” he said.
“It has been an absolute privilege to spend so much time here over the past six years and I’m excited to now join the local business community.”
Despite the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19, Mr Hemmes believes the time is right for expansion into a holiday playground like the Eurobodalla.
“One of the silver linings to come out of the last year is a heightened appreciation for our own backyard – an excitement to explore our spectacular country and its coastline,” he said.
“We are so lucky to call Australia home.”
Set on the shores of Forsters Bay, The Quarterdeck has been an institution in the Eurobodalla community for decades.
Originally an oyster grower’s shed, it has been operating as a Tiki bar for the past 20 years.
Merivale will receive the keys to the venue within the next few months and says it plans to “trade as normal” for the foreseeable future.
Merivale began as an iconic fashion house more than 60 years ago.
Started by John and Merivale Hemmes, Merivale’s fashionable beginnings were soon followed by a venture into hospitality opening a Thai tea cafe within their Sydney CBD fashion building in 1970.
Justin Hemmes has grown the ever-expanding Merivale portfolio to more than 80 brands and venues.